Tossing cowpies at today’s New York Times “Greening the Pasture” story
Right idea, wrong approach: We were so happy to see the New York Times piece, "Greening the Herd," about a Stonyfield Farm-backed program to change dairy cows' diets to see if it might reduce their methane emissions and thus curb their contribution to climate change. Especially this sentence: "Since January, cows at 15 farms across Vermont have had their grain feed adjusted to include more plants like alfalfa and flaxseed — substances that, unlike corn or soy, mimic the spring grasses that the animals evolved long ago to eat." Our smile abruptly disappeared on page 2, when we read that the flax used in the new feed is not from pasture, but is an additive: the flax is grown in Canada, then "often" shipped to Europe for heating to release the oil in its seed. The article does say that "if the pilot program was expanded…a heating facility would be built in the United States, and processing costs could be slashed." (New York Times) Are we missing something here? Doesn't shipping flax to Europe and back leave a rather large carbon footprint? And why just "mimic the spring grasses that the animals evolved long ago to eat" — why not encourage dairy farmers to grow some of them for the poor creatures to actually eat? Somebody please explain this foolishness to us.
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